China's rural hydropower projects have become an important part of the rural infrastructure and a critical means of protecting the ecological environment, said Chen Lei, Minister of Water Resources Sunday.
Hydropower stations in rural areas helped save the combustion of more than 56 million tonnes of standard coal, and eliminated 140 million tonnes of Carbon dioxide emissions and more than 700,000 tonnes of sulfur dioxide emissions, said Chen at an industry conference on rural water resources held in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province.
Up to 99.6 percent of the rural household had access to hydropower last year, compared with less than 40 percent in 1980. More than 300 million people were affected, he said.
During 2006-2009, 12.5 billion yuan (1.84 billion U.S. dollars) had been invested to increase 1.26 million kilowatts of power generation capacity in 400 counties, he said.
After the snow disaster in early 2008 and the May 12 Wenchuan earthquake, small hydropower plants, dispersed across the disaster-affected areas, had greatly helped restore electricity soon after major thermal power plants were devastated, Chen said.
China's hydropower potential in rural areas stood at 128 million kilowatts, said Tian Zhongxing, head of the ministry's rural hydropower development department Saturday.
(Xinhua News Agency May 17, 2009)